“BEYOND THE WALLS” (TV Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Amy Seidman
A 3-Part TV Mini-series that premiered in the US earlier this year as a Shudder exclusive, BEYOND THE WALLS embodies all the elements of what truly makes this writer scared. There is not an onslaught of blood and gore, but rather a quiet, ever-building tension in the story and in the camerawork that satisfies.
The story follows a speech therapist named Lisa (Veerle Baetens) who has recently moved to a new town for work. Just as she is settling into her new digs, she learns that there was a man found dead in the run-down house across from hers. His name was Andre Bainville, he was an author and he had been believed to be dead for 30 years. While that strikes her as bizarre, it becomes even more bizarre when she is asked to meet with an estate solicitor as she has been named the beneficiary of the house owned by the deceased man, whom she was too young to have ever met. The bottom of his will in red pen says “Jean 10:9,” a biblical reference meaning, “I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
Lisa decides to set up home in the dilapidated house, but on her first night, she is awoken by the cries of a child from behind the walls. After breaking through, she discovers there is so much more to the walls than pipes and boilers. In fact, there is a passageway with a door, and upon entering, she encounters things so unsettling she tries to make her escape back to the other side. This is the briefest summation one can make of this series, as there is so much more to the storyline and characters, but it’s the kind of thing you have to see to believe.
Let me start by saying this writer was very intrigued by this miniseries from the get-go as I have had a lifelong obsession with the infamous Winchester house, with its staircases to nowhere and endless secret passageways. The performances in BEYOND THE WALLS are beautifully nuanced and extremely effective. The personality traits are created over each episode with very purposeful pacing, unfolding in a very natural way. This is one of the many beautiful things about French cinema and BEYOND THE WALLS: the slow reveal.
In terms of the visuals, BEYOND THE WALLS’ cinematography is absolutely stunning. After watching the series, I really appreciated how much thought was put into making the viewer feel a little overwhelmed, much as Lisa felt, by the huge rooms and high ceilings. It was the perfect juxtaposition to the claustrophobic passageways behind the walls. I would say that the house itself is one of the most sadistic villains in horror I have seen this year, as well as one of my favorites. Its plays with Lisa’s psyche, including the fears, regrets and tragedies that she has carried for as long as she has lived.
This series is completely engrossing, one that I watched in one sitting. The storyline has so many twists and turns I could not wait to see where we went next, nor could I even possibly guess. It was also quite romantic, something I wasn’t expecting from the series but am very happy it had that extra layer. BEYOND THE WALLS is something incredibly unique and something I could (and did) watch more than once. A thoughtful, and beautiful story that is beautifully written and executed, BEYOND THE WALLS comes highly recommended.